The body clock’s natural rhythm could be utilized to improve current therapies to delay the onset of chronic lung diseases.
Internal biological timers (circadian clocks) are found in almost all living things driving diverse processes such as sleep/wake cycles in humans to leaf movement in plants. In mammals including humans, circadian clocks are found in most cells and tissues of the body, and orchestrate daily rhythms in our physiology.
The research team’s ground breaking findings, which are being published in Genes & Development, have for the first time found that the circadian clock in the mouse lung rhythmically switches on and off genes controlling the antioxidant defense pathway. This 24 hourly rhythm enables the lungs to anticipate and withstand daily exposure to pollutants.
The research was led by Dr Qing-Jun Meng from The University of Manchester who is also a Medical Research Council (MRC) Research Fellow. He has been studying body clocks for a number of years and has been awarded an MRC Career Development Award to establish the relationship between the disruption of circadian rhythms and the susceptibility to human diseases, especially those associated with old age.
Dr Meng said: “We used a mouse model that mimics human pulmonary fibrosis, and found that an oxidative and fibrotic challenge delivered to the lungs during the night phase (when mice are active) causes more severe lung damages than the same challenge administered during the day which is a mouse’s resting phase.”
This means that the rhythm of this lung clock gives an indication of more suitable times of the day for drugs to be administered to patients suffering from oxidative/fibrotic diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Dr Meng continued: “Our findings show that timed administration of the antioxidant compound sulforaphane, effectively attenuates the severity of the lung fibrosis in this mouse model.”
In other words the research suggests that taking drug treatments for oxidative and fibrotic diseases according to the lung clock time could increase their effectiveness, which would allow a lower dosage and consequently reduce side effects.
Dr Vanja Pekovic-Vaughan, who was part of the University’s research team, said: “This research is the first to show that a functioning clock in the lung is essential to maintain the protective tissue function against oxidative stress and fibrotic challenges. We envisage a scenario whereby chronic rhythm disruption (e.g., during ageing or shift work) may compromise the temporal coordination of the antioxidant pathway, contributing to human disease.”
This latest study is part of on-going research that is exploring how chronic disruption to body clocks by changes like ageing or shift work contribute to a number of conditions such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and mood disorder.
Dr Meng said: “Our next step is to test our theory that similar rhythmic activity of the antioxidant defence pathway also operates in human lungs. This will enable us to translate our findings and identify the proper clock time to treat chronic lung diseases that are known to involve oxidative stress.
“Funded by an MRC Fellowship Partnership Award, we have teamed up with GlaxoSmithKline to explore the potential of utilizing the body clock mechanisms to improve the efficiency of the current antioxidant compounds for diseases. Timing the delivery of drugs - so-called ’chrono-therapy’ or ’chrono-pharmacology’ - has already demonstrated clinical benefits in treatment of cancer and arthritis,” he said.
Professor Stuart Farrow, a Director in the Respiratory therapy area at GSK (who is also the industrial partner for Dr Meng on the MRC Fellowship Partnership Award), commented: “Chronic lung diseases are prevalent and debilitating, and continue to be an important area of unmet medical need. This exciting new research reveals an opportunity to harness the body clock to provide valuable benefit to patients.”
Notes for editors
Media Relations Officer
Faculty of Life Sciences
The University of Manchester
Tel. +44 (0)161 275 2111
Please contact us for a copy of the paper ‘The circadian clock regulates rhythmic activation of the NRF2/glutathionemediated antioxidant defense pathway to modulate pulmonary fibrosis’ by Vanja Pekovic-Vaughan, Julie Gibbs, Hikari Yoshitane, Nan Yang, Dharshika Pathiranage, Baoqiang Guo, Aya Sagami, Keiko Taguchi, David Bechtold, Andrew Loudon, Masayuki Yamamoto, Jefferson Chan, Gijsbertus T.J. van der Horst, Yoshitaka Fukada, Qing-Jun Meng
Kath Paddison | EurekAlert!
New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond
21.11.2017 | Emory Health Sciences
The main switch
21.11.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.11.2017 | Life Sciences